A few years ago, my young son came home from school, very excited to share with me what he had learned that day. It was about the genre, feminine or masculine.
"Wow, Mummy, can you believe that I could be in the school with 100 girls and all our lady teachers, and even if I am the only boy there, my presence dictates that a male pronoun is to be used?"
In French, to designate two or more people, one must consider their genre or sex beside the plurals. Unlike in English, where we use "they" regardless if they are female (she = elle)) or male (he = il). When there are both female and male, regardless of proportions, in French, the masculine genre wins over the feminine, and the masculine pronoun in plural form is to be used (ils).
More than my son's words, what caught my attention was the sudden feeling of superiority that he felt he was given even over his devoted teachers, who were all women. His attitude had changed, and I had to do some rectifications for his good.
Being a woman is a gift from our creator. It carries both joy and pain as life's on earth. Societies have placed some significant challenges lurking behind every natural gift a woman receives in life. Let me share some examples with you.
Greeting with the gift of my radiant smile
Some appreciate the energy and vibrate higher with it. Others see it as a weakness and think about how to try to fool me.
The gift of my outstanding strong inner voice
It proved to be a challenge in every society I've lived or work in, regardless of the country's level of development. That includes the Caribbean, the United States of America, the European countries I have lived and worked in, and the Asian countries I've worked with. I have been reminded of my woman's condition for each. They all have a somewhat lower expectation for women, which does not align with my inner voice's leadership.
The gift of my passion for technology, leadership & management
Technology, leadership, and management are still considered man's job in people's mindset around the world. Many see it as a man's destiny instead of a woman's. If you doubt, look at the low percentage of women in leadership positions and technology in different countries.
I am grateful to the people who encouraged and supported me. I know the solutions I brought to businesses from Fortune 100 to SMBs. I know of the people I've helped and served in different ways internationally.
Women have been leading for a long time, but the issue is that they have been downplayed. Today we've seen that the countries that best lead the COVID-19 crisis are all led by the few women leaders in the world.
The gift of people who believed in me invested in me and willingly helped me follow my dreams.
I keep them close to my heart, and to honor them, I multiply their investment in others. The more I meet their opposites, the more I appreciate and honor them. I fight never to quit, so I continue to deserve their generosity even after some have left this life. A small encouragement to a little girl may be what makes the difference for her. Seeing women represented also is an excellent investment in the future generation.
The many gifts of kindness, self-consciousness, personal authority, self-control, dignity, respect, discernment, and the ability to refuse toxic and reductive brain programming in society globally
Each of the five fingers in our hands is different and serves both different roles and common purposes. It takes a lot of strength and endurance to be who you are and not give in to some people and society's toxic agenda.
The gift of being a woman itself, just like that of being a man
It is a privilege to be aligned with my gift while many suffer from not aligning with their sex.
Despite other peoples' perceptions, embracing my womanhood never prevents me from being professional and efficient in what I do.
A great lesson I wish I had learned earlier is "to not let others define who you are, even in your darkest time". Every woman needs to remember that.
The "woman only" approach is not my style, for I prefer to focus on humanity with its richness in variety. However, the more I progress in life, the more I become aware of women's pain and suffering, the violation of their rights, the efforts to shut their voice, alienate their being, reduce their potential, and take advantage of their work in gratuity.
Women are continuously abused by the people they love. In the country they live in, governments, justice authorities, and societies who watch in indifference as they suffer are humiliated and abused until being murdered.
A few years ago, I did some volunteer work in a mother and children refuge or shelter in Brussels. The life stories of these women and their innocent children left me very concerned. Every week in several countries in central Europe, women's abuse and murders make the news headlines. That is only the tip of the iceberg. Shockingly, nothing significant is done against that by the governments and in the courts.
Most of the murdered women asked for help from the police, reported their abuse, and went to court before it happened. I have witnessed many times how most of these authorities and professionals took the easy road and downplayed the women's plea for help portraying them as weak victims having a mental breakdown or manipulative or lying women.
Opportunist lawyers create stereotypes and all kinds of false portrayals of these women to downplay their stories. All the while, the overwhelmed and often indifferent judges don't even have the time to read the cases brought to them, even less to deliver equitable justice. The saddest thing is that I have seen women in the justice system doing that to other women. As a result, the judge remains neutral or side with the abuser, putting the victim in greater danger or making the situation worse.
Women's rights are not an underdeveloped society or a national problem or but a global problem.
You don't have to be a woman to fight against women's abuse or to make a difference. I am as much concerned to see or hear of men abused. It is just that it happens much less. You can make a difference anywhere at any level, regardless of how small. Insecure people prey the most on others and regardless of genre.
You can contribute to making the world a better place at any level where you are and even with little things. Just like I did with my son.
Remember, even if it might be a society's beliefs or common habits, that does not make something right. I realized that common-sense is not common, so I expect it less, but I choose it. Stand for what is right daily, not just on Women's day, and life will be better for each of us.
In this era of digital transformation, business, and technology innovation, technology can help bring many solutions to the challenges we face. It takes leaders to bring in the changes in their areas of expertise. Furthermore, we must refuse to condition the machine age or spoil artificial intelligence with our biases against women.
A technology leader myself, the most competent Infrastructure division manager and technology leader I had the privilege to work with, is a petite woman named Florence's. Still, I sometimes have to fight the women in technology bias when I am on the phone with a woman technical support agent. The fact that there are fewer women in technology is the fact that society has succeeded in programming girls and women alike against their inner voice. It is not a reflection of compatibility between women and STEM. Each of us always has some effort to make on that matter.
Woman's International Day today March 8th 2021, I honor the women who are restrained for being whom they are created to be. I also honor everyone who fought and those still fighting for women's rights globally. You who defend threatened women, respect them, help them, and protect them—you who offer opportunities to women and remunerate them correctly for their contributions.
Women, don't turn off your light for those who can't stand your brilliance. Use your brilliance for what it was given to you. You love technology, electro-mechanic, science, cosmetology, hair styling, or whatever; go for it.
Listen to your deep inner voice, discover your gifts, ability, and passion, and dare to thrive. Les Brown likes to say, "you have greatness in you." He is right. Don't let the world shut down your greatness but use that greatness for a better world. We all need it!